Wednesday. Strange, thought-provoking piece about an entire century-old underground-railway system (under Cincinnati) which never got used. Apparently even the tracks were laid.
Tuesday. Hot sun. Finish book borrowed from Michael A., 'The Closing of the American Mind' by Allan Bloom, describing what he thinks has gone wrong with humanities teaching at universities. His focus of course is the US, and this was written in the 1980s. I've been meaning to read it since I saw the Nigel of Light with a copy years ago. However, it's even more topical now. An excellent read, perhaps the best thing I've read for a year. Bloom addresses how college students and the culture they're brought up in has changed since the 1950s, he traces a range of European intellectual influences on US humanities teaching over the decades of the 20th century, and he has some fascinating personal anecdotes about anti-Vietnam demonstrations on campuses in the 1960s along with the involvement of black power groups in those university sit-ins. The chapter on classical & pop music alone is worth reading the book for.
Monday. Slightly unfair April article about the old tweets of a new 24-year-old National Union of Students president. In these she proclaimed she "wants to oppress white people". Given she was 17 when she wrote that, it should perhaps be overlooked. Her current views might be obnoxious enough, but plenty of people say silly things while still adolescent.
Sunday. Overview of Lebanese artist whose sensual, body-centred artworks might be coming into fashion after decades of relative neglect.
Saturday. Shortly before the lesson with Boardgame Orsolya, I finish the book I bought in the departure lounge at Heathrow Sunday before last, which I've been meaning to read for years: 'Moonwalking with Einstein' by Joshua Foer. Nicely written, a little unkind in one or two places about the people he meets, but overall sensible, encouraging, and inspiring. Cleverly helps make amazing enhancements of the mind seem more credible, feasible, and worthwhile. A journalist interviews a memory-champion competitor, refuses to believe competitors have normal memories improved by tricks, and ends up spending a year (coached by his original interview subject) training for a memory competition himself to test the claim.
Friday. Nazi scientists tried to train talking dogs, says 2011 article. Icelandic anthropologist asserts in 2016 that elves are real.
Thursday. Swathe of euro-weasels lose their Cabinet posts as Boris Johnson, great grandson of an admirable-sounding Turkish politician (briefly Ottoman Minister of the Interior in 1919), becomes Tory leader.
Wednesday. Two articles about alleged Jew-hatred inside the Labour party: a quite brave mea culpa from one former participant; and the rather wonderful thought that Ken Loach might be sued by a journalist he criticised.
Tuesday. Elon Musk opens up about plan to wire people into the internet. Of course, he adds, "This is not a mandatory thing. It's something to have if you want." Increasingly difficult not to see Musk and his clutch of loss-making businesses as a sort of tame technologist/guru/entrepreneur/kite-flyer for, and funded by, the US deep state.
Monday. Are men intimidated by highly educated women? Seemingly no. Two researchers say that men don't select for education in women partners, but nor do they select against it.
Sunday. Kai Fu-Lee is a Chinese engineer originally from Taiwan (the "rebel province") now based in Peking. He suggests China will overtake the US in artificial intelligence (AI), but warns AI systems will never be minds.
Saturday. A celebrated present-day thinker who is Korean but writes in German, Byung-Chul Han discusses privacy, social media, and self-exploitation. Unfortunately, since he studied philosophy in Germany, he's been contaminated with Hegelianism, uses giveaway terms like 'neoliberalism', and thinks there's a thing called 'capitalism'. Hence although it's interesting he's writing and thinking about these topics at all - doesn't feel like he has anything original to say about them, but I haven't read his 16 books. Here he is on "the Hell Where Everything's the Same".
Friday. Two songs by Kimbra. The disarmingly honest and tense Settle Down, and a self-critical
Top of the World.
Thursday. Esoteric Veronica tells me during our lesson that one of her grandfathers, a restauranteur round about World War 2, gambled away his wife in a poker game. This wasn't Veronica's grandmother: he married 5 times, she explains. Meanwhile, a handy guide to finding white witches in northern Poland; sad tale of Tory pro-EU rebel MP Anna Soubry losing faith in Mr Chuka; Guardian cartoonist goes supernova when his pro-Palestinian cartoons get censored; British government announces country's highest exports ever.
Wednesday. Smoking "scars" your DNA.
Tuesday. Journalist wears music-activated 'device' to night club.
Monday. An equation supposedly predicting the end of humanity. Underpins Nick Bostrom's rather dotty simulation argument.
Sunday. A very jolly Polish lady driver takes me to Heathrow for my flight back. My journey is seemingly shadowed by someone else in the TV production called Omar. I never meet Omar, but I find his driver outside the hotel in London, waiting to go to a different airport terminal. On arrival in Budapest an anxious driver there at the airport straight away asks me if I am Omar. Once back in the Big Pogacsa I drop by Simon's flat where he and Robin are watching the nail-biting England/New-Zealand cricket match projected onto his sitting-room wall. Slightly startled to notice the England team are playing in face cages and baby-blue pyjamas with a white cricket ball and black screens. Then Terri & Alvi & I dine together at a Thai eatery, where we talk about low-budget feature films, cricket, psychological drama, Tunbridge Wells, weird parasites, and prophetic short stories.
Saturday. I oversleep (due to getting no call times the previous day) but everyone is very nice about it. Driven into Westminster, I find I must get out of a black taxi driven by the lady-taxi-driver actress's amiable body double. We do this on camera four times, and am told then at 9 in the morning my work was great and I can go. Sleep a couple of hours in my Keats-carpeted bedroom, then spend most of the afternoon hanging around in the basement of the hotel basement with some genial extras. I eat some fruit and more cakelets. An effort to find a charity shop selling 2nd-hand clothes south of Waterloo around 6.30pm fails. Last night finished Paul's copy of 'The Strange Death of Europe' by Douglas Murray: moderately, carefully argued, full of interesting interviews with refugees coming into Europe.
Friday. Catch a plane in Budapest to get to London so as to play my small role as rude taxi passenger again. A charming but gloomy-looking man from Kosovo drives me from Heathrow to a rather swish hotel across a bridge from the Houses of Parliament. The cheerful make-up-and-hair ladies let me snaffle some darling cakelets seemingly abandoned outside their cosmetics den in the bowels of the hotel. The carpets in corridors and rooms upstairs have a curious design: an orangey tandoori sort of colour with the words of Keats' poem Asleep! O sleep a little while, white pearl! set into the carpet in yellowy-cream cursive italic. A block of text doing this poem twice recurs every couple of yards. Sweet idea for a hotel carpet, really.
Thursday. Finish Paul's copy of the 1975 book 'Biology of God' by Alister Hardy. He was a marine biologist involved at an Oxford college with research into people's reports of religious experiences. Hardy proposes that some higher moral sense of togetherness (perhaps some richer kind of telepathic communication across a tribe) was of evolutionary advantage for early humans. He's quite careful and thoughtful in summing up various positions on science-versus-faith.
Wednesday. Nicely restrained song Why Don't You from Cleo Sol. On the other hand, Amber Mark and Lose My Cool.
Tuesday. Interesting attempt to claim the great Tunisian historiographer Ibn Khaldun as an early economist centuries ahead of his time. Suggesting he anticipates both Smith and Keynes rather torpedoes the idea before it even gets going though. Still, I ought to check Khaldun myself.
Monday. Psychiatric diagnoses meaningless? Not a complete surprise.
Sunday. Brave firm reviews 3 ways (it says) to raise IQ. Not quite how I remember modafinil, but never mind.
Saturday. Two tunelets from the adorably named "Young Rascals", many moons ago. Feast your eyes on that green-satin-shirt-plus-waistcoat combination on tambourine man. Then another from the following year, again with some mighty outfits but noticeably more post-suit.
Friday. Curious research result that immune cells, the little tinkers, invade brain tissue over time. This is not a good thing, say men with clipboards.
Thursday. Pick up document from the FCO. Ja! My papers are in order!
Wednesday. 40 years on, China repeating Japan's Fifth Generation mistake.
Tuesday. Trudge over to new British Embassy location up bright, sunny 11 bus route on Fig street for my "emergency travel document" for July's filming. No! Is not so simple, my friend! Later find Theology Andras & two of his brothers, before a lovely dinner of steak on hot stone in small town just outside Budapest. We touch on Jaynes and Sulloway, among other coffee-fuelled topics.
Monday. The day (July 1st) one Hungarian colleague told me one year that summer was already over. Prizewinning example of looking on the bright side. Meanwhile, even a single exercise session helps brain cells.
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